If you've read Class Comic's "Mark of Aceus," then you're familiar with the writings of Zan Christensen. Zan has ascended from being a comic writer to the ranks of comics publishing. When I learned of his new company, Northwest Press, I hopped on the opportunity to get to know Zan a little more and to find out more about his new comic company.
This interview revealed Zan has worn several hats (and hair colors) in the media industry...
ZAN CHRISTENSEN: An Insight
Favorite Guilty Pleasure:
"I'm a vegetarian, but on occasion I'll have breaded chicken strips. It's so wrong but so right."
What are you doing when you're not writing?
"I'm publishing books now, so a lot of my time is spent organizing projects, proofing, working with printers, etc."
How old were you when you came out?
"I was an early bloomer; I fell in love with someone in high school in my sophomore year and came out to him because I thought he was gay too, but he wasn't. By my junior year, I was pretty much out to the world."
Which living person do you most admire?
"I'm a huge Ian McKellen fan. He's just got such amazing weight and presence, and he puts it to good use."
How would you like to die?
ZAN CHRISTENSEN: Writing
What is your favorite part about writing?
"At its best, writing feels like transcription for an alternate reality; you're just the conduit through which the story is flowing and it feels exciting and effortless. I'm just as thrilled to see what happens as the reader is."
Which part of writing do you like the least?
"Getting into that 'zone' is not easy, and it takes a lot of discipline to force myself to write when I'm not already inspired. (And here's a secret - if you write only when you're already inspired, you might not do a lot of writing!)"
Are there any writers who influenced your writing style?
"I was very influenced by Chris Claremont's X-Men and New Mutants work back in the day. To a thirteen-year-old kid dealing with loneliness and alienation, his stories were the truest, most "real" superhero comics I'd ever read. As I've gotten older, I find I'm influenced much more by film and stage work than by comics. I tend to like very naturalistic stories that are emotionally honest and that's harder to find in comics"
What projects are you currently working on?
"I'm putting the finishing touches on an illustrated novella called "Legacy" which is about reincarnated monster hunters living in modern Seattle and it's a star-crossed love story - sort of. I'm also submitting a short story about a gay super-villain to an anthology that's coming out in October. On the publishing front, the next Northwest Press book is David Kelly's "Rainy Day Recess: The Complete Steven's Comics," which comes out at the end of March."
Tell us about Northwest Press.
"Northwest Press (NWP) is a small publishing company that produces LGBT graphic novels and comics collections. It's released two books so far, with a third coming in March."
What inspired you to start it?
"Apart from Class Comics, which focuses exclusively on erotica, there aren't any publishing houses that focus on gay comics work. Fantagraphics' "Eros" imprint doesn't have a lot of gay content anymore. I have a lot of skills as an art director and production artist, and I wanted to bring a level of polish and professionalism to LGBT graphic novels and try to fill a need in the market."
If an artist, writer, or just a creator in general wants NWP to publish them, how would they go about it?
"At this stage, I'm personally selecting the slate of projects for Northwest press based on work that I've come across and want to expose to a wider audience, so there's no submission process right now. My advice for someone who wants to be published by NWP is to do your work and publish it online or in 'zines and minicomics and start to reach your audience. I'm plugged-in to the LGBT comics scene - I'll see it."
ZAN CHRISTENSEN: Sex
Top or Bottom:
"Sorry to disappoint all you bottoms out there, but..."
Sexiest part on a man:
"The mouth - To smile, to kiss, to laugh...it's an essential."
Have you done porn?
"I was actually in a small porn film that a friend and I co-wrote and -directed for Seattle's HUMP! Film Festival, although it wasn't selected to be in the show. We took it down to San Francisco's Erotic International Film Festival last year, though, which was a blast. It was a porn parody of Luc Besson's 'The Fifth Element' called 'The Filth Element." I played the Bruce Willis role; blond hair and all. I didn't have any 'action' scenes, though. If you see me at a convention and ask nicely, maybe I'll show it to you."
What's your fetish?
"Give me a guy who wants me to say, "Sir, Yes, Sir!" and I get a little weak in the knees."
How big is "Too Big?"
"Pick up a Patrick Fillion comic book. :)
But they have the advantage of having superhero asses that can take anything."
Thank you, Zan. I appreciate you taking the time to share with us a little about yourself and to tell us about Northwest Press.
Zan Christensen, Everybody!
So, NWP isn't officially accepting submissions yet, but Zan's eye is on the watch for talent. It's comforting to know gay comics have another home.
Next week I'm continuing my "NWP Welcome" with another interview with NWP's artist/writer, Jon Macy.
Have a great week everybody!